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BlackBerry Explores Strategic Alternatives – Patents for Sale

Last week, BlackBerry announced that it is officially up for sale. The company has been struggling for quite some time, desperately scrambling to increase subscriber numbers and market share with new products and other creative “strategic alternatives.”

Now that the company is officially on the market, some are worried that it may have a hard time drawing a buyer. However, the company may have one technology up its sleeve that could give it the boost in value it needs.

BlackBerry subsidiary Certicom is currently in possession of patents regarding a form of encryption that government officials note is the best way to protect sensitive data. Better known as elliptic curve cryptography, the technology is used primarily in emails sent from BlackBerry devices and in communications sent by the US government.

Currently, the company owns 130 of the encryption patents, and they could easily be BlackBerry’s biggest asset. The patents were first purchased back in 2009 for just over $100
million, and are expected to be worth much more today.

So who might be interested in purchasing the company? Some analysts are pointing to Chinese manufacturers, like Lenovo and ZTE, who are currently competing aggressively in developing countries with lower-end devices. BlackBerry could be the push that these companies need to get ahead.

Regardless, it will be interesting to see how the company fairs in the near future, whether it’s selling off parts of its technology and patents or refocusing its efforts on innovating new products. Chairman of BlackBerry’s Special Committee of the Board said in a recent blog post that “Given the importance and strength of our technology, and the evolving industry and competitive landscape, we believe that now is the right time to explore strategic alternatives.”